USCIS has made significant changes to how it will eliminate unnecessary barriers and smoothen the U.S. legal immigration process. To this point, they have announced ways to reduce procedural delays, increase efficiencies and make it fair for all.
Employment Authorization Documents (EAD)
Currently, EAD is issued for a single year with the option to renew in increments of another additional year. USCIS has now decided to increase the one-year validity period to two years for certain Adjustment of Status petitioners. This will ensure there is some more continuity for the applicants while at the same time reducing the number of EAD renewal applications that USCIS will receive. Moreover, the hours spent by the USCIS officers in renewing the same benefit every year would be eliminated. This would in turn, reduce the already backlogged processing times faced by USCIS.
A win-win arrangement for both!
By increasing the validity period for employment for eligible candidates, President Biden intends to remove barriers to legal immigration to the U.S.
Fewer Denials – More Approvals
In 2018, former President Trump had announced that immigration officers could deny any immigration application for the most frivolous reason. It could be a simple mistake like missing a single line or not having all the required supporting documents. This had caused a lot of hardship for many who go through a lot of paperwork to submit the applications. After a lot of processing times goes by, USCIS officers would simply reject these applications without giving them a second chance.
President Biden is rescinding this memo by ensuring that the applicants “are given an opportunity to correct innocent mistakes and unintentional omissions”.
So instead of outright rejecting the application, the USCIS officer will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). This will give the applicant a chance to furnish them with the missing document and continue with the application instead of having to start over.
Not only will this reduce backlogs but also establish eligibility for legal immigrants quicker.
Clearing The Backlog
Going forward USCIS will help identify specific applications that will qualify for expedited processing. This will help clear the backlogs by helping the applicant move down the process faster by accessing expedited options wherever available. This would be an option over and above the premium processing when available.
USCIS Officers would facilitate the following –
- Identify situations to expedite an application by redefining an emergency. For eg., traveling to receive medical treatment.
- Allow non-profit organizations to request expedited processing. This is permitted as long as their request promotes the social or cultural interests of the U.S.
Not only will this help with faster processing but help clear all the backlog that has accumulated over the pandemic months.
Additionally, U.S. embassies and consulates abroad are making concerted efforts to address the backlog in the processing of immigrant visas. The Department of State has identified four priority tiers which they will tackle in the following order:
- Tier One: Immediate relative & inter-country adoption visas, and cases where minors now are ageing-out due to their age
- Tier Two: Immediate relative visas covering fiancé(e) visas, and returning resident visas
- Tier Three: Family based immigrant visas and Special Immigrant visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad
- Tier Four: All other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas
In the words of Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the above policies are being updated to “promote access to the legal immigration system, and will continue to make improvements that help individuals navigate the path to citizenship, and that modernize our immigration system.”